UNION, N.J. – The No. 22 William Paterson men's basketball team (19-4, 13-3 NJAC) rallied late but could not come up with the game winner during the waning seconds, falling 66-65 at Kean (6-17, 4-12 NJAC) Feb. 11.
Even with the loss, the Pioneers remain a game ahead of No. 19 Richard Stockton (12-4 NJAC) for first place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) standings with two games remaining. WP has already secured a top-two seed for the upcoming NJAC Tournament, and with it a first-round bye and a home semifinal game Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 7:00 p.m.
Playing its third game in five days, the Pioneers fell behind 13-2 less than five minutes into the contest, and trailed by as many as 14 (29-15, 6:42) before cutting it to six at 41-35 by halftime.
William Paterson twice pulled to within one during the opening minutes of the second half, but eight straight Cougar tallies pushed Kean ahead, 52-43 with 10:00 to play. Two free throws later made it a 66-59 Cougar advantage at the 3:10 mark, but two straight three-pointers from junior forward James McLane (Belleville, N.J./Queen of Peace) made it a one-point margin with 1:24 remaining.
Those were the last points of the game, as the two teams traded misses for the remaining 84 seconds, including a WP attempt from behind the arc with five seconds left.
Junior guard/forward Terik Bridgeman (Harlem, N.Y./Nia Prep) led the Pioneers with 13 points, and senior guard Jaques Conceicao (Massama-Lisboa, Portugal/Francais Charle Lepierre) pulled down a game-best 10 rebounds. McLane and senior guard Sandy Burgos (Fort Lee, N.J./Fort Lee) each posted 12 tallies, and junior guard Manny Hernandez (Paterson, N.J./Paramus Catholic) added 10 points from off the bench.
Junior guard Tommy Soulias scored 18 points for Kean. Senior guard J.J. Hladik added 15 tallies.
William Paterson will play at The College of New Jersey Saturday, Feb. 14, at 3:00 p.m.